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Flow of Goods from the EU

Volume 709: debated on Thursday 3 March 2022

13. What steps her Department is taking to (a) reduce barriers to and (b) increase the speed of the flow of goods from the EU to the UK. (905865)

Removing barriers to trade is the core business of this Department, and we have plans to introduce the best border in the world by 2025.

I thank the Minister for her answer. Unfortunately, Brexit has erected trade barriers with the European Union, and businesses are struggling with imports and exports. A new business in my Edinburgh South West constituency lost thousands of pounds importing a consignment of honey, because it lacked the correct paperwork. A huge amount of effort went into sorting out that paperwork, which was ultimately unsuccessful. The Scottish chamber of commerce tells me that Scottish businesses are effectively spending twice as much in costs due to inconsistencies in interpreting rules for imports and exports across the European Union and its partnership countries. This situation has been brought about by Brexit, so the Government have a responsibility to help businesses, such as the one in my constituency that I mentioned. Will the Minister reopen the Brexit support fund to help business?

I would say two things in response to that. First, much of the friction that the hon. and learned Lady is talking about is coming from the EU’s requirements on us. In voting for Brexit, it was not our intention, or the nation’s motivation, to erect trade barriers. The problem was that the price of frictionless trade was too high. That is why the UK has left the EU. What we want to do is remove barriers; we want as frictionless trade as possible. I hope that she will help us make the case to the EU to do that.

We have the Export Support Service which the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade, my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer) has spoken about, and also the Trader Support Service, which is focused absolutely on these issues. There is also financial support to enable businesses to export or to get their sectors better prepared for some of the challenges that they are facing. Our door—I speak for all Ministers—is always open to the hon. and learned Lady if she wants to raise individual cases. We stand behind our producers, our manufacturers and our exporters, and we will do everything we can to ensure that they are maximising the opportunities available to them.